In director and writer Cristina Costantini’s multi-award winning film Science Fair, co-directed and co-written by Darren Foster, the stories of various high school science students are told. This feature is a “brilliant and quirky” appreciation of the teenage genii that the rest of the world will one day depend upon. (SYJ:4.5/5)
Review written by FF2 Media Intern Sophia Jin
In a world where people come from all sorts of backgrounds, Science Fair unites the supposed outcasts, also known as the “teenage geeks”, who participate in the world renowned Intel ISEF (Intel International Science and Engineering Festival), chasing after their one passion — science. Each group or individual create a product or theory that will potentially change or impact the world in the future. Opening with the footage of Jack Andraka winning first prize in the 2012 ISEF, he explains what a huge deal this festival is to young scientist.
And so, we are introduced to Anjali, Kashfia, Myllena and Gabriel, Robbie, Ryan, Harsha and Abraham, and Ivo. Despite coming from different backgrounds and having contrasting personalities these teenagers have one thing in common — they are all intelligent and passionate about science. For example, Anjali is a “child prodigy”, a 14 year old sophomore, building an arsenic testing device. She has a confident and competitive personality that sometimes does not suit other characters. However, she does not mind, as her main focus is her scientific research.
Kashfia, on the other hand, she is a very quiet student from a sports-crazed high school. Costantini shows the contrast between the select students, as Kashfia was not well known in her school and isn’t as outgoing as Anjali. This proved challenges in her study of the brain as she did not have a suitable science teacher to be her research advisor, and so she turned to the school’s football coach.
Throughout the feature, Costantini and Foster proves to the audience that students across the world who have a passion and knack for science are more than capable of creating something that could be life altering. The process of making the various technology is explained by the individual students, but the preparation for each presentation is on screen.
Dr Serena McCalla makes a recurring appearance throughout the film, and is shown as a strict teacher from Jericho High School who guides a group of students in their research and presentation. She is a strong woman, who does not put up with any discrepancies or lack of detail in each student’s work. She shows a strong but fair woman in the whole stressful lead-up to the biggest science event of the year for high school students.
Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster’s film created a bond between the audience and each student, especially among the younger audience members. Some may be jealous of their intellect, others may be grateful that the younger generation are not looked down upon. After all, it is the younger generation that will one day run the world. This feature as well as the concept of ISEF brings reassurance and hope to the future. The various sequences fit well within the story line of the events.
The picture is also full of vibrant colours and the way the film takes footage from each individual’s inhabitance is also a way in which the audience can connect better to the students. For example, Myllena and Gabriel come Brazil, and the struggle of a foreign language as well as an area that is less fortunate is shown in their montage. This only inspires the audience more and supports the students even more in their quest to find out more about the Zika virus and how to prevent/cure it.
As a whole, the film was well done, showing successes as well as those who did not reach their goal. Science Fair is an inspirational feature, taking pride in the teenagers’ successes and innovations. Despite some failures, each group’s creations are incredibly illuminating and clever. The students all work incredibly hard for their achievements, and in the montage of their future plans, it is clear that they will continue to work hard and achieve great things in the field of science. The purpose of the film was to hope for the audience to fall in love with the world of science and to be proud and reassured by the students. I can say that this was a successful project and venture.
© Sophia Y. Jin (9/22/18) FF2 Media
Photo curtesy of National Geographic
Top photo: Poster
Middle photo: Anjali with her arsenic testing device
Bottom photo: Intel ISEF
Q: Does Science Fair pass the Bechdel-Wallace test?
Yes! It talks about female student scientists a lot!